Foundations of Pennsylvania Practice

About This Program

Target Population: Newly hired child welfare professionals

Program Overview

Foundations of Pennsylvania Practice: Building Competency, Confidence, and Compassion (Foundations) is designed to provide child welfare professionals with the fundamental knowledge and skills they need to ensure the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and to achieve their direct service worker certification as required by Pennsylvania regulation. The entire Foundations series consists of 124 credit hours delivered entirely in a Team-Based Learning (TBL) format, including simulation sessions, and consists of 40 hours of online modules, many of which prepares the learner for 72 hours (8 modules) of in-person application sessions. Transfer of Learning activities are delivered through an additional 12 hours of field work whereby the learner works with an "advisor" at their county agency on structured assignments that includes discussion questions and practice scenarios.

Program Goals

The goals of Foundations of Pennsylvania Practice are:

  • Learn fundamental knowledge and skills related to the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Practice Model and Competencies leading to the achievement of the child welfare outcomes of safety, permanency, and well-being

Logic Model

The program representative did not provide information about a Logic Model for Foundations of Pennsylvania Practice.

Essential Components

The essential components of Foundations of Pennsylvania Practice include:

  • A series of 124 hours total credit hours consisting of:
    • 40 hours of online modules as preparation for in-person modules
    • 72 hours (8 modules) of in-person modules
    • 12 hours of field work in collaboration with a county "advisor" on structured assignments
  • Grounded in foundational child welfare practice based on Pennsylvania's ten child welfare competencies which:
    • Were developed with county and state representatives
    • Reflect Pennsylvania's Child Welfare Practice Model
    • Are the indicators used to measure practice and performance in Pennsylvania
  • Foundations series utilizes different delivery methods including:
    • Online
    • In-person application sessions including simulation
    • Field work selected intentionally to support adult learners
  • At the start of the in-person Team-Based Learning(TBL) modules, learners engage in a dynamic and critical thinking learning process where they first work as individuals to complete a brief readiness assurance process:
    • If the results of the readiness assurance check indicate the need, the instructor provides mini lectures to ensure learners comprehend the foundational knowledge presented in the online preparatory modules.
    • The readiness assurance process also ensures learners are prepared to engage in application activities and simulation for the remainder of the in-person session.
  • During each in-person TBLmodule:
    • Diverse teams formed based on learner's experience with the topic of the module
    • Teams collaborate on application activities to solve realistic problems related to child welfare practice
    • All teams work on same problem during each application activity
    • Through intrateam discussion, each team agrees upon preferred response to the problem and simultaneously reports their team's response
    • Following each simultaneous report, the instructor facilitates debrief where teams talk to each other to surface rationales for selecting preferred responses and ruling out other options
    • Instructor's facilitation leads all learners to understand key learning points related to each application activity
    • Key learning points reviewed and emphasized by the instructor before moving on to subsequent activities
  • Simulation consists of:
    • The use of standardized clients/standardized attorneys who portray realistic roles during simulation-based training sessions
    • Providing learners the opportunity for skills practice in realistic scenarios and settings
    • Simulation labs resemble an apartment or a courtroom
    • Standardized clients/standardized attorneys provide performance level feedback to learners following their simulation
  • Following application activities and simulation, learners are provided the opportunity for self-reflection on their understanding, skills and confidence level to use skills in the field.
  • During each in-person module, instructors facilitate a team reflection to monitor and adjust how they are functioning together as a team.
    • This process parallels the need to assess, monitor, and adjust team formation and functioning in the field to best serve children and families.
  • Transfer of Learning activities are delivered through field work whereby the learner works with an "advisor" at their county agency on structured assignments that includes discussion questions and practice scenarios. Field work:
    • Reinforces Newly acquired knowledge
    • Allows learners to apply new skills to their work
    • Helps learners become more familiar with agency specific practice
  • Collection of regular feedback from participants regarding their satisfaction with each module in the series
  • Monitoring assessment data to inform continuous quality improvement of the curriculum and delivery processes
  • The Foundations topics include:
    • Introduction to Child Welfare Practice
    • Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect
    • Introduction to Engagement
    • Introduction to Interviewing
    • Child Protective Services and General Protective Services
    • Safety Assessment
    • Risk Assessment
    • Safety and Risk Assessment Continuum
    • Permanency and Concurrent Planning
    • Introduction to Dependency Court Practice
    • Family Service Planning
    • Achieving Permanency
    • Child Development
    • Personal Safety
    • Self-Care
    • Education Advocacy in Child Welfare Practice
    • Professional Development

Program Delivery

Recommended Intensity:

The in-person modules vary in length from six hours to twelve hours. Each online module is one to three hours.

Recommended Duration:

3-4 months though it can be spread out up to 18 months, if needed

Delivery Setting

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Public Child Welfare Agency (Dept. of Social Services, etc.)


Foundations of Pennsylvania Practice includes a homework component:

Prior to most in-person modules, learners must complete preparatory online modules and, after some Foundations modules, learners must complete field work assignments with an identified "advisor". Throughout online modules, learners are asked to assess their knowledge and skill related to each learning objective before and after completion of each module.

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

Simultaneous response cards, scratch cards, team name cards, instructor guide, participant handouts, simulation lab, simulation props

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

Bachelor's degree in social work related field or commensurate experience and college-level course work in social work related field

Manual Information

There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program.

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
  • Kathleen Swain, Assistant Director
    phone: (717) 795-9048
Training Type/Location:

Informal phone and in-person consultation is available upon request.

Number of days/hours:

Informal phone and in-person consultation is available upon request.

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Currently, there are no published, peer-reviewed research studies for Foundations of Pennsylvania Practice.

Additional References

No reference materials are currently available for Foundations of Pennsylvania Practice.

Contact Information

Michael Byers, MSW
Agency/Affiliation: Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center
Phone: (717) 795-9048

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: July 2017

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: March 2020

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: October 2017